Almost every company wishes to reach as many customers as possible. It’s not surprising because this usually translates into maximized profits. In the era of modern technologies where the Internet plays a key role, it’s very important to be visible online. Consequently, SEO and SEM activities turn out to be extremely vital in the marketing campaign.
Online marketing agencies are contacted by enterprises operating in a variety of sectors - food, construction, technology, clothing, textiles, and many others. Some of these industries are more or less competitive which means that they’re also more or less challenging and favorable for specialists. However, regardless of the likes and dislikes, Google distinguishes one more category - the so-called restricted industries. Which service sectors are we talking about and is there any chance of promoting such a company online?
What industries are prohibited in Google?
Google has introduced a transparent system of restrictions imposed on specific industries. It distinguishes products and services that are either totally acceptable, subject to certain limitations, or completely prohibited. Interestingly, in this case, a lot depends on local legislation so sometimes companies are able to effortlessly advertise their services in Germany, whereas the same activities are considered illegal in Poland. Therefore, it’s worth familiarizing oneself with specific regulations of countries where you want to operate, provide services or sell products.
To understand how these restrictions work in real life, it’s worth taking a closer look at a few of the most popular prohibited industries that are present online despite the limitations. How come? Well, it’s not as obvious as it may seem.
The medical industry
When talking about the medical industry and its operation online, it needs to be mentioned that restrictions refer mainly to entities conducting medical activities, i.e. clinics, hospitals, or private doctors, as well as online pharmacies. The law clearly states that in this case information about the practice may be published, however, it mustn’t have an advertising nature. Moreover, according to similar regulations, doctors shouldn’t publish their images for commercial purposes.
Similar restrictions apply to pharmacies. They can freely provide information on opening hours or locations. But what about online pharmacies that operate just like any other e-shops? We’ll discuss it in the subsequent part of this entry!
Check also: How to do SEO for the medical industry?
The alcohol and tobacco industry
When it comes to the online promotion of alcohol, Google pays attention to industry standards and adapts restrictions to local regulations of each country. In Poland, it’s prohibited to advertise beer, wine, vodka, champagne, liqueur wine, sake, and even non-alcoholic beer and other non-alcoholic beverages obtained through distillation.
These restrictions seem rather exaggerated, considering that most of us are certainly familiar with beer advertisements appearing on roadside billboards or TV. In Poland, this ban was mitigated and for some time now beer advertisements have been prohibited on TV, radio or cinema only between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. Most producers willingly take advantage of these circumstances and select the so-called prime time, i.e. the time with the highest number of viewers, which usually means late evening hours.
When it comes to billboards promoting beer beverages, 20% of the advertising space must be devoted to messages about the harmful effects of alcohol.
On the other hand, in the 1990s, TV abounded in tobacco advertisements that would be out of the question today because of the promotion of the harmful effects of nicotine on the human body.
What’s more important, companies selling alcohol and tobacco online should go to great lengths to ensure that they don’t suggest that drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes is beneficial to health or has a therapeutic effect. It’s also crucial to direct the offer only to consumers that are old enough to drink legally. Furthermore, website content (category or product descriptions) needs to include a health warning for the potential buyer.
The gambling industry
Google clearly states that advertisements promoting gambling mustn’t be directed to minors and their content must contain information on responsible gambling. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that promoting the gambling industry is only possible in certain countries, therefore, before you decide to perform SEO activities or create business ads, check the regulations of the target country where you want to offer your services.
The erotic industry
Owners of companies operating in the erotic industry have to face quite a challenge when talking about online marketing. Most social networks, forums, advertising portals, etc. block entries advertising companies operating in this market segment and their possibilities are rather limited when it comes to paid campaigns. Both Google and other sites such as Facebook have clearly formulated rules stipulating that any sexually explicit content is prohibited in promotional texts. The same applies to visual materials or matrimonial advertisements. Moreover, it’s extremely important to ensure that content for adults isn’t displayed among other texts targeted at entire families, including minors.
In the case of the erotic industry, the complete ban applies to app ads, display ads in Gmail, image ads, reserved display ads or customer ratings.
(No) holds barred - SEO for restricted industries
When speaking about SEO for restricted industries, it’s worth noting that SEO activities performed for a website operating in any of the sectors prohibited by Google aren’t illegal. SEO aims mainly at improving website visibility in the search results, therefore, if you focus on creating fully informative, not advertising content, you won’t break the rules. Saturating such texts with appropriately selected keywords, properly created metadata, and refined headers and internal links is often enough to achieve high positions in the search results.
Medical websites, including online pharmacies, require a special approach due to the high level of duplicate content. The law makes it impossible to create unique descriptions of medications, therefore, most subpages simply contain content copied from official websites of manufacturers. In this case, it’s a good idea to develop expert articles containing health and beauty tips published on the company blog. However, it’s crucial to ensure that texts are reliable and don’t encourage people to purchase specific products by guaranteeing their high effectiveness.
The same applies to the gambling industry. Blog entries are a perfect solution if you want to saturate the page with quality content. Entries may elaborate on the rules of particular games or bets, the history of casinos, or comment on legal regulations related to gambling. This will be a valuable source of knowledge for users and it’ll support the SEO process which translates into proper website visibility.
When dealing with websites of companies operating in the restricted industries, it’s a good idea to enable commenting. This way, you can obtain valuable content on a specific topic that may enrich individual subpages.
What’s more important, according to legal regulations, only logged-in users can publish comments and reviews. Then, the comment is displayed to a specific group of recipients interested in a given topic. It’s extremely important to Google which focuses on ensuring that content related to banned industries reaches only a particular, narrow group of people.
Check also: User Generated Content. What is it and how to use it in SEO?
If you’re a physician, you should consider setting up a business profile on portals with rankings where patients can rate visited specialists. It has a positive impact on doctor’s credibility and thanks to the fact that services have been numerously rated online, the specialist shows the expertise which is the best ad.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that industry standards regulate certain rules that must be followed even when doing SEO for a company operating in one of the mentioned sectors. It's important to ensure that every text - both internal and external, which means basically every link - contains a statement about the dangers of gambling, alcohol, and tobacco addiction.
Google Ads - how to advertise restricted industries online?
When talking about advertising-restricted industries, we can’t forget about Google Ads. PPC activities are frequently linked to SEO, thus it’s worth checking whether paid ads are even acceptable in the case of brands dealing with medical, alcohol, tobacco, erotic, or gambling products. Google Ads policy clearly distinguishes between prohibited and restricted content.
Google does its best to ensure that users aren’t misled by dishonest sellers. Therefore, it's strictly forbidden to spread fake news and counterfeit products mustn’t be promoted with the use of Google Ads. All articles with a logo or trademark that completely or partially coincides with the trademark of another product are considered counterfeit. Besides, it’s prohibited to advertise products dangerous for life and health such as weapons, fireworks, psychoactive substances, e-cigarettes, or even water pipes.
Check also: Erotic Content in Google Ads. Policy Update
If you want to promote any of the banned industries, you need to know that Google allows advertising depending on the laws and cultural habits of the country. For example, the promotion of erotic content is allowed but restricted. The same applies to alcohol, gambling or healthcare, and medications. Content needs to be legal and tailored to individual users.Some of the restrictions imposed by Google can be circumvented by replacing banned phrases with others related to the business. Don’t overwhelm users with ads full of GIFs, pop-ups, or background music. All these elements have a negative impact on the website and increase the chances of getting a penalty as Google attaches great importance to user-friendliness.
At Delante since October 2018. Once an avid student of editing, now – a happy graduate. She knows well where to insert a comma and where to eat deliciously in Krakow (and Warsaw!). Originally from Silesia, now in exile in the capital, a lover of sleep, sage chops and Friends.
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